Are you planning a quick jaunt to Taiwan’s dreamy harbor city, Kaohsiung? If so, this two days in Kaohsiung itinerary is just what you need.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan offers a wealth of exciting activities to entice all types of travelers – from jaw-dropping temples and bustling night markets to sweeping ocean views, nature within easy reach, and a booming art scene.
As the largest port city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung is a sprawling metropolis with plenty to keep you busy. While fitting in all the incredible things to do with only 2 days in Kaohsiung might seem tricky, this Kaohsiung itinerary will give you a good taste of what the city has to offer. It’s jam-packed with the best things to do in Kaohsiung, and I’ll also be sharing all my insider tips to help you maximize your time and plan the perfect 2 days in Kaohsiung itinerary. You’ll also get useful tips on where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around Kaohsiung here!
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Kaohsiung Itinerary Pre-travel Tips
Two days in Kaohsiung is ample time to get to know the city a little bit better and explore all the cool Kaohsiung attractions. However, before you visit the bustling streets of Kaohsiung, there are a few things you need to consider first.
Here are my top pre-planning tips to help you fully enjoy a 2-day Kaohsiung itinerary.
- Search the best hotels in Kaohsiung (more on this later). Kaohsiung is a popular destination among locals and travelers alike. Therefore, it’s best to book accommodation well in advance, especially when traveling during special holidays or on weekends.
- If you’re planning on exploring the rest of Taiwan, grab this guidebook to help you plan your stay. It’s jam-packed with handy information and offers many insights into the culture, history, and much, much more.
- Most locals can understand basic English, but learning a few Chinese phrases can go a long way into making your trip more enjoyable.
- If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities, emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
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For a stress-free Kaohsiung itinerary, here are a few essentials to will help you on your first visit to Kaohsiung.
- There are plenty of Wifi hotspots in Taiwan, but picking up a local sim card at the airport is highly encouraged. This way, you can access maps, translations, and plan your stops stress-free. You’ll also need a local number if you’re planning on using the biking system in Kaohsiung and further afield.
- Get Taiwan’s local top-up card, the Easy Card, to tap-and-go on the subway, trains, and buses. By doing so, you won’t need to worry about having the right change. You can also use it to rent bikes, or buy goods at convenience stores.
- Since you’ll probably be coming from Taipei, the fastest way to get to Kaohsiung is by high-speed rail. If you are a tourist, it’s a good idea to book a discounted HSR ticket here via Klook to guarantee a seat. Single journey tickets are available. But, if you plan on making good use of Taiwan’s efficient rail network, I highly recommend grabbing this 5 Day Joint Rail Pass, which will allow you to travel onwards by HSR or TRA easily and save some money. For more tips, read my guide on the easiest ways to get to Kaohsiung.
- If you aren’t comfortable navigating the city on your own, this day tour is a great way to see all Kaohsiung’s highlights stress-free. Alternatively, hire a private driver to help you get around the city and explore the top attractions without the headache. More independent travelers, on the other hand, can utilize the city’s extensive transit system, which includes buses, an MRT (subway) and a light rail network.
- Travelers seeking a unique experience might want to join this Meinong & Aboriginal Village Culture day tour for a closer look at the local culture.
How to Spend 2 Days in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a fantastic city to visit. The town packs the perfect mix of glorious temples, bustling markets, nature escapes, and mind-blowing food. With this Kaohsiung itinerary, you’ll get a good idea of how to spend a weekend in Kaohsiung and, of course, what to to do!
Since I’ve traveled to Kaohsiung numerous times while living in Taiwan, this guide includes all the best bits not to miss on your Kaohsiung itinerary. However, feel free to change up my following suggestions from day to day to make your 2 days in Kaohsiung tailored to your specific needs and preferences while visiting Kaohsiung. Ready? Let’s go!
Kaohsiung Itinerary Day 1
On your first day in Kaohsiung, explore the top attractions in the city. Visiting Fo Guang Shan, watching the sunset at Tiger and Dragon Pagodas, seeing the Dome of Light and snacking your way through Luihe Night Market offer plenty to keep you busy on the first day of your 2 days in Kaohsiung itinerary!
Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Fo Guang Shan is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan and an absolute must on your Kaohsiung itinerary. The peaceful retreat has quickly become one of the city’s top attractions and a firm favorite among culture seekers, photographers, and Instagrammers.
The monastery is home to sprawling grounds, several exhibition halls where you can learn more about the religion, many vegetarian eateries and small shops selling cute souvenirs. Besides visiting the main exhibition hall, where you can see relics, artifacts, and an array of cultural and historical treasures, Fo Guang Shan is also extremely photogenic. Head to the top of the main exhibition hall for a bird’s eye view of the beautiful grounds, towering pagodas, and a close up look at the world‘s tallest bronze buddha.
Fo Guang Shan is the perfect place for some spiritual reflection and the ideal spot to start your 2 days in Kaohsiung itinerary. You could easily spend a whole day here, but as your time in Kaohsiung is probably limited, 3-4 hours is ample time to explore the main grounds, visit the exhibition halls and grab a bite to eat.
Since the monastery is a 30-minute bus ride from Kaohsiung, I highly recommend going here first in order to minimize travel time. If you’re arriving at Zouying station, you can catch the direct E02 bus at bus stop 2 to Buddha Memorial Hall (right in front of the station). Make sure you have the exact change (NT$70) or use your Easy Card if you have one. Alternatively join this tour if you aren’t comfortable navigating the bus system by yourself. For more tips, also see my guide on how to get to Fo Guang Shan.
Oh, and, if you’re traveling with luggage, there are many lockers within the high-speed station or the adjacent MRT station where you can store your luggage. However, ample storage is also available at Fo Guang Shan’s information desk, free of charge.
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Once you’ve made it back to Zouying Station, hop in a taxi to one of the city’s most photogenic spots, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. If you prefer walking, it will take about 20 minutes to get there. It’s a pleasant stroll taking you past changing urban scenes.
The twin pagodas sit at Lotus Lake – a beautiful artificial lake surrounded by greenery and several religious temples dedicated to different deities. Besides doing an obligatory walk through the towers, be sure to head up each tower’s staircase for the best photo opportunities and views over the lake. Oh, and remember to enter through the mouth of the dragon and exit through the mouth of the tiger – it’s believed to bring good luck!
Further afield, drop by the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, which is home to several pavilions and walkways, all offering excellent vantage points over the lake. A bit further along, stop by the Zuoying Yuan Di Temple, where you can see the impressive warrior-statues lining the walkway to the towering Taoist deity, Xuandi with his Seven Star Sword.
Dome of Light
Kaohsiung is an incredibly photogenic city and a mecca for art lovers. So it’s not surprising that you’ll also find the world’s largest colored-glass public art installation, and certainly one of the most colorful underground art installations, the Dome of Light here. Moreover, since the Dome of Light is housed in the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, it is extremely accessible.
The installation was created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata and took well over four years to complete. With more than 4500 glass panels covering 660 square meters, the art piece depicts human life in all its stages. These stages are in turn represented by water, earth, light, and fire.
Besides being one of the top photo spots in the city, the Dome of Light also commemorates a massive pro-democracy demonstration that occurred nearby in the late 1970s.
Luihe Night Market
End your first day in Kaohsiung by exploring Luihe Night Market – Kaohsiung’s most well-known foodie spot. Here you will find many street food vendors to choose from, along with restaurants, quirky souvenir shops, and more.
Whatever you choose to feast on, don’t forget to sample some of the terrific seafood on offer here. Many places sell fresh and delicious seafood, such as crab, huge shrimps, octopus, squid, and even lobster.
Visiting Luihe night market is a must on your visit to Kaohsiung, and you’re bound to find many amazing snacks to try. If you follow a vegetarian diet, try some of the fresh fruit or fried vegetable dishes on offer.
Kaohsiung Itinerary Day 2
The last day of your two days in Kaohsiung itinerary is all about culture, art, and enjoying a slice of nature. Start your day by exploring the Insta-worthy Sanfeng Temple and then head over to the Love River for a relaxing stroll. Afterward, it’s time to explore all the cool art installations at Art Pier 2, before ending the day at the beach on Cijin Island.
Although there are not nearly as many temples in Kaohsiung as in neighboring Tainan, the city still has its fair share of remarkable temples. One of the most photogenic temples to add to your Kaohsiung itinerary is undoubtedly Sanfeng Temple. Therefore, on your second day in Kaohsiung, start your morning by exploring this vibrant cultural site.
To see this centuries-old temple’s full beauty, make your way up the steep steps. Then, enter the premises through huge, beautifully decorated doors. Once inside, you’ll find dozens of red sky lanterns dangling above you, creating a beautiful ambiance similar to that of Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur!
For the best photos of the lanterns and temple’s gorgeous, intricate design, head to upper balconies for picture-perfect views.
The Love River is a beautiful 12km-long river flowing through central Kaohsiung to the city’s harbor. Besides its natural beauty, it is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Along the way, there are several cute cafes, restaurants, bars, and hipster hangouts where you can sit and admire the views.
Those looking for something a bit more exciting could opt to join a boat ride or, better yet, a romantic gondola ride along the river. It’s an excellent way to get a close up look at the concrete jungle surrounding this beautiful waterway. Some of the most notable attractions to see along the way include Holy Rosary Cathedral, Kaohsiung District Court, and Kaohsiung Bridge.
If your Kaohsiung itinerary allows, I highly recommend visiting at night to see all the dazzling city lights!
Pier 2 Art Center
Art and culture seekers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to drop by Pier 2 Art Center. Although the Pier 2 Art Center is revered as the city’s quirky outdoor creative hub, it once served as a storage area for goods brought to the docks by the railway.
Today, you’ll find several areas showcasing different exhibitions within the abandoned warehouses, cool sculptures and statues, art galleries, museums, and plenty of colorful murals.
Be sure to also drop by the Hamasen Railway Culture Park nearby, which houses the Takao Railway Museum. Besides stopping by the museum, there are several old trains, and many metalwork sculptures scattered across the abandoned train tracks.
There are several ways to reach Pier 2 Art Center, but I always prefer alighting at Sizhiwan Station. From there, it’s a short stroll past Hamasen Railway Culture Park before you reach the first warehouses.
I highly recommend renting a bike at the green bike shop (Mccoy Bikes) on Penglai Road. A bike rental costs NT$100 per day and it is an excellent way to explore the rest of the waterfront. Moreover, if you plan on visiting Cijin Island afterward, you won’t need to worry about renting a bike further afield.
A short 5-minute ferry ride from Gushan Terminal brings you to dreamy Cijin Island. Besides a chance to hit the black sandy beach, Cijin is home to many quirky places to see, exciting things to do, and it is revered as the best place to eat seafood in Kaohsiung.
Stopping by the centuries-old Cihou Fort and the Kaohsiung Lighthouse should be high on your list. Both of these places are incredibly photogenic and offer stunning panoramic views of the harbor, island, and Kaohsiung. You should, however, know that it’s a steep walk up the mountain to get to both of them! Remember to stop along the way to enjoy the gorgeous views and don’t forget to bring water along.
Further afield, drop by the Rainbow Church and the Seashell museum – Cijin Island’s most Instagrammable spots. Visiting the centuries-old Tianhou Temple, and snacking your way through the old street is also obligatory.
Although most people visit Cijin in the evening to sample all the amazing eats at the old street, you could easily spend a whole day exploring the island, playing on the beach, or sipping sundowners at the laidback Sunset Bar. However, since your time in Kaohsiung is probably limited, head to Cijin in the afternoon. This way, you can still explore some of the best bits during daylight hours, catch the epic sunset, and enjoy the buzz of the old street at night.
Whatever you choose, visiting Cijin Island is a delightful way to end your second day of 2 days in Kaohsiung.
You can rent a bike along the promenade in Cijin, but I highly encourage picking up a bike near the Art Pier 2 to maximize your time. The ferry ride costs NT$40 for a single journey, and you’ll need the exact change if you’re biking. If you already have an Easy Card, the ferry ride will be slightly cheaper.
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Kaohsiung Itinerary Travel Tips
Two days in Kaohsiung is just enough time to get to know the Harbour City and marvel at all it has to offer: temples, museums, art, nature, and street markets. This 2-day in Kaohsiung itinerary maps out all the highlights Kaohsiung has to offer.
Here are some quick tips and tricks, combined with the ones above, which will make your 2 Days in Kaohsiung itinerary more enjoyable.
When to visit Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is an excellent destination to visit year-round. Since the city lies in southern Taiwan, expect warm sunny weather on most days. However, seeing that Taiwan has a sub-tropical climate, the best time to visit Kaohsiung is during the dry season, which runs from October to March.
The dry season is also a great time to hop on a ferry to nearby Xiaoliuqiu – Taiwan’s most beautiful and largest coral island. (You can read all about the island here in my detailed Xiaoliuqiu guide).
From May to September, you’ll still have beautiful weather, but you should know that it’s the rainy season. Summer in Kaohsiung can also be especially relentless. Expect average temperatures to rise well above 30 degrees with high humidity. Typhoon season also runs from July to September. If you must visit during this time, remember to check the weather forecast in advance and plan accordingly. Read my packing list to find out what to bring along on your trip.
How to get to Kaohsiung
There are several ways to get to Kaohsiung, depending on where you are coming from. For travelers flying directly to Kaohsiung Airport, getting to the city center is super easy. Buses, taxis, and the very affordable MRT are just a few ways to get into the heart of Kaohsiung.
If you are heading to Kaohsiung from other cities in Taiwan, like Taipei, you can access the city by overnight bus, train, or high-speed rail. However, to maximize your time in Kaohsiung, I highly encourage arriving via high-speed rail. The journey only takes about two hours from Taipei. Trains are frequent, very reliable, and affordable. For more tips, see my guide on getting to Kaohsiung from Taipei.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung
If it’s your first visit to Kaohsiung, you’re probably trying to figure out where to stay. Kaohsiung is a big city, with a great selection of hotels and hostels. However, with more than 20 districts to choose from, figuring out where to stay in Kaohsiung can be tricky.
Therefore, when visiting Kaohsiung, I highly recommend at least staying near an MRT station. That way, you’ll be able to navigate your way around the city and get to all the best stops hassle-free. Xinxing, Cianjin, and Sanmin districts are all terrific areas to stay in Kaohsiung. From here, you’ll have easy access to transit options, shops, restaurants, night markets, and much more.
Best places to stay in Kaohsiung
- FX Hotel is my go-to hotel whenever I visit Kaohsiung. The hotel is well-placed near many shops, restaurants, Luihe night market, and sightseeing areas in Kaohsiung. It’s a short walk to the City Council MRT, and the hotel is exceptionally affordable, clean, and modern. All in all, it’s the perfect base for any itinerary in Kaohsiung!
- Just Sleep is at a perfect central location near the Kaohsiung train station. It’s a beautiful, modern hotel and offers excellent value for money.
- Icon Hotel is another excellent choice for travelers looking for an affordable, modern hotel that is located near many shops, restaurants, and night markets.
- The Ambassador Hotel is a stylish 5-star hotel overlooking the Love River. Located in Kaohsiung’s financial hub, it offers easy access to two MRT stations. And, is an ideal choice for travelers looking for an upscale hotel.
- Those looking for cheaper accommodation without sacrificing style and comfort might find Backpackers Inn or Light Hostel Kaohsiung excellent budget options.
How to Get Around during your Kaohsiung Itinerary
Kaohsiung is an easy city to explore and get around. There is an extensive MRT system in Kaohsiung, and probably the best transportation option you have. It’s fast, cheap, and frequent. You can purchase tickets at every station, but if you don’t want the hassle of bothering with small change, make sure you grab an Easy Card. This way, you can simply tap and go. (See the complete MRT map here)
There are also city buses, taxis, a small light rail, or private charters to consider while visiting Kaohsiung for two days. Of course, if you’re using a rental car, you can plan your stops and explore the city at your own pace. But beware, the traffic in Kaohsiung can be cumbersome.
What to eat in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung packs the perfect mix of high-end restaurants, hipster hangouts, cheap old-fashioned local eateries, and street food markets. Here are a few of the local specialties not to miss on your visit:
Chinese Sesame Doughnuts – Baked in clay ovens, these crispy cakes are stuffed with peppery meat.
Papaya Milk – Papaya milk is one of the city’s most popular specialty drinks and a must-try on your visit to Kaohsiung. For the best fruit and vegetable smoothies in town head to 鄭老牌木瓜牛奶.
Seafood – Seafood is big in Kaohsiung, so you’ll have plenty of choices. You can get anything from fresh shrimp, oysters, crab, squid, and lobsters.
Lemongrass Hotpot – A slow-cooked broth prepared from fresh lemongrass served with vermicelli or noodles, vegetables, and seafood.
Seafood Congee – Consists of many different kinds of fish parts served in a thick rice broth.
Guabao – Slow-braised pork belly stuffed into a steamed bun, and topped with peanut powder.
Brown Sugar Bubble Milk Tea – If you love bubble milk tea, you’re in for a real treat! Definitely try the brown sugar bubble milk tea at O Day Makes My Day near Liuhe night market – it’s incredible!
Need More Help Planning Your Taiwan Travels?
Planning on traveling onwards from Kaohsiung? These guides will come in handy! They’re jam-packed with insider’s tips and tricks to help you fully enjoy the rest of your Taiwan travels.
That wraps up this 2 days Kaohsiung itinerary. What tips do you have for fellow travelers planning a Kaohsiung itinerary? Drop your comments below.
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